The Other Elections16 May 2016
The elections for the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and UMSU International have now closed, with the results from both elections expected to be called soon.
However, concerns have been raised over the sufficient notice of the UMSU International elections. According to many international students, no notice of the general election was given directly through email or post. Instead, notice was given indirectly through social media channels, the website and the student portal.
In comparison, the GSA has given notice of this year’s general election via both email and post. Last year, UMSU gave notice of the general elections to all University of Melbourne students via email.
Furthermore, the returning officers of the election, officials hired to regulate the election fairly and independently, include the incumbent General Secretary and Vice President (Cultural and Social) as opposed to an external company as used in the UMSU and GSA elections.
General Secretary of UMSU International, Divyaa Jayakumar, explains that the need for independent electoral scrutiny within UMSU International is unnecessary.
“Unlike UMSU, we do not play a political role in the University. Instead, we play more of a social role, ” she says.
UMSU International regulations also require the returning officers to be current or past members of the central committee.
In 2015, the GSA general elections had a voting participation rate of 3.56 per cent, a disproportionately low number in comparison to the UMSU general elections which are usually between 10 and 12 per cent.
Nevertheless, the 2015 GSA electoral report requested that the use of electronic voting be continued for 2016 for easy access.
“The use of electronic software provides an enormous cost saving to the GSA over the previous method of conducting the election – by postal vote. Additionally, it is more accessible for students generally and allows for the result to be instantly published.”
In addition, general manager of the GSA, Simon Napthine, has told Farrago that there had been a stronger attempt at raising awareness of the election. This has included postering and working graduate groups to advertise the election. Early feedback from the returning officer has predicted that voter turnout is expected to surpass the previous year based on the participation rate so far.
This year, there were 28 nominations for the GSA’s governing body, 10 more than in 2015.